The Ramsar Bulletin Board, 1 October 2004

Moldova, Ukraine, and Poland discuss Dniester cooperation. Integrated Management of Natural Resources in the Transboundary Dniester River Basin was the title of an international conference held on 16-17 September in Chisinau, the capital of the Republic of Moldova, organised by "Eco-Tiras" (the International Environmental Association of River Keepers) and the Moldovian Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources. The two-day conference attracted nearly 200 participants from Moldova, Ukraine and Poland, the three countries sharing the Dniester river from the Carpathian mountains to the Black Sea, covering a catchment basin of 70,000 km2 with five million inhabitants. Ramsar's Tobias Salathé supplies a brief illustrated report of the meeting and the issues involved, and here too is the text of the paper he presented on transboundary river basin management. [27/09/04]


Ramsar visit to Andorra. During their visit to the principality of Andorra, Peter Bridgewater, the Secretary General, and Sebastià Semene Guitart, in addition to their participation in the 5th International Congress of Andorra on the Environment, had the opportunity to meet with high-level officials and firm up plans for Andorra's accession to the Convention, which is presently planned for a signing ceremony to be held at the Ramsar Secretariat in October. Here is Sebastià Semene's brief report on both these discussions and the progress of the Congress so far. [16/09/04]


Ukraine names eleven varied new Ramsar Sites. The Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources of Ukraine, in collaboration with the Wetlands International Black Sea Programme and expert staff members from a number of important protected areas around the country, has presented the data, maps, and designation documents for 11 new Wetlands of International Importance, effective 29 July 2004 and covering 28,401 hectares, in a fascinating variety of habitat types. All of them have already been designated as National Parks or Nature Reserves in-country (one of them is part of the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve 'Askania-Nova') and already have ongoing research activities, in most cases management plans, and in many cases visitor infrastructure. They are found in nearly all parts of the country - coastal sites in Crimea on the Azov and Black Seas (Cape Kazantyp, Karadag, Cape Opuk); a pod or steppe depression also in the south (Chapelsk); a bay of the Dniester River itself (Bakotska Bay) and a canyon and delta of one of its tributaries (the Smotrych); floodplains near the Russian border in the north (Desna) and more in the center of the country (Dnipro-Oril); a lake formed by mountain landslides in the Carpathians (Synevyr); and extensive peatlands in the Polesie area near the Belarus frontier (Perebrody, Polissia mires), which are part of continuing discussions with Belarus and Poland concerning transboundary management.

Ukraine now has 33 Ramsar Sites covering a surface area of 744,651 hectares, and the Convention's global total now reaches 1376 sites covering 122,691,471 ha. Ramsar's Assistant Advisor for Europe, Estelle Gironnet, has prepared brief site descriptions of the new sites which give a strong sense of their value for the biodiversity of the region. The accompanying photographs are by Grygoriy Parchuk. [15/09/04]


Serbia and Montenegro names new salt site for the List. The Institute for Nature Conservation of Serbia has provided outstanding well-completed documents (Ramsar Information Sheet, map and photos) for the inclusion of a unique salina area in Serbia and Montenegro into the List of Wetlands of International Importance. As described by Prof Dr Lidija Amidžic, Director of the Institute, the value of the natural characteristics and biodiversity of the new designated Ramsar site Slano Kopovo is "so high that it is almost off-chart for estimation. This act is a crown of our many years of wishes and plans to get Slano Kopovo, besides the status of Important Bird Area (IBA), also the well-deserved international recognition as a new Ramsar area." Ramsar's Estelle Gironnet has provided a brief description of Slano Kopovo (976 hectares, 45º38’N 020º13’E), designated effective 22 July 2004, a Special Nature Reserve and IBA in Vojvodina province, based on the materials provided by the government of Serbia and Montenegro, and here it is. [14/09/04]


Information on the Ramsar Pan-European Regional Meeting. The 5th European Regional Meeting on the implementation and effectiveness of the Ramsar Convention will take place in Yerevan, Armenia, 4-8 December 2004, as an important part of the regional preparations for the 9th Conference of the Parties (COP9) to be held in Kampala, Uganda, 7-15 November 2005, with the theme "Wetlands and water - supporting life, sustaining livelihoods". The 5th Regional Meeting of the European Contracting Parties aims to analyse the major issues and concerns that characterize the expansion of the Convention and its work in the region. It will provide the opportunity to share experience and to discuss common problems, major achievements, and the need for future actions. An index Web page has been set up for the meeting and now includes the provisional Programme and Agenda and a collection of Practical Information for the delegates -- more information, including agenda documentation, will be added as it becomes available. [14/09/04]


Management planning process for Humedales Chaco. On 2 September a workshop was held in Resistencia, Argentina, to begin the process of consultative development of a management plan for the Humedales Chaco, which was designated as a Ramsar Site on World Wetlands Day 2004. More than 70 participants, among them technicians, civil servants, researchers, producers, fisherfolks, teachers, students and NGO representatives, discussed their objectives and opportunities and set the basis for a management plan for the region. The workshop was organized by the Ministerio de la Producción del Chaco, the Subsecretaría de Recursos Naturales y Medio Ambiente, the Dirección de Fauna, Parques y Ecología, and Fundación PROTEGER-Amigos de la Tierra, Argentina. A report from Fundación PROTEGER is available here in English and Español, as well as on PROTEGER's Web site, http://www.proteger.org.ar/documento.php?id=252, with further information and photos. [08/09/04]


Workshop on the Paraguay and Paraná wetlands corridor. On 3 September, Fundación PROTEGER and the Subsecretaría de Recursos Naturales y Ambiente del Chaco met with teachers, students, public employees, producers, fisherfolks, NGO representatives and native communities, among different social stakeholders, for a workshop in Los Palmas on the banks of the Paraguay River, in the site of the Humedales Chaco Ramsar Site, for a workshop on further Ramsar Site designations on the Paraguay and Paraná rivers' wetlands corridor. Here is a brief report on that workshop as well, with a link to the Spanish version. [09/09/04]


Mozambique becomes the Convention's 141st Party. The Ramsar Secretariat is delighted to report that UNESCO has sent notification that on 3 August 2004 Mozambique deposited its instrument of accession to the Convention on Wetlands, as amended by the Paris Protocol (1982) and Regina Amendments (1987), and the Convention will therefore enter into force for Mozambique on 3 December 2004. The new Party's first Wetland of International Importance is the "Marromeu Complex", which comprises the Marromeu Buffalo Reserve and four surrounding hunting concessions in Northern Sofala Province. The Complex, which has a total area of 1,300,000 hectares, includes more than 680,000 ha of dry forest and woodland savanna, floodplain grassland, deep-water swamp, costal dunes and mangrove forest. It supports a great diversity and abundance of wildlife including Cape buffalo Syncerus caffer, waterbuck Kobus ellipsiprymnus, sable antelope Hippotragus niger, Lichtenstein's hartebeest Sigmoceros lichtensteinii, Burchell's zebra Equus burchellii and African elephant Loxodonta africana. The Marromeu Reserve and surroundings are integrated in the larger Zambezi basin, 1.33 million Km2 extent, which incorporate four distinct biomes and numerous habitats. A more substantial description of the fascinating new Ramsar Site will follow after the site data has been studied by the Africa team in the Secretariat, but in the meantime we welcome Mozambique to the Ramsar family as our 141st Contracting Party.

The Secretariat would particularly like to acknowledge the considerable support offered by the WWF Living Waters Programme and the WWF Maputo office, as well the National Directorate of Environmental Management of Mozambique, whose assistance has been extremely helpful to the Secretariat in moving the accession process forward. [07/09/04]


Switzerland approves "Swiss Grant for Africa" for 2004. The Secretariat's Africa team is pleased to announce that the Federal Government of Switzerland (Swiss Agency for the Environment, Forests and Landscape) has agreed to fund the Convention's activities in Africa for another year through the Swiss Grant for Africa. The 2004 Swiss Grant for Africa will allow the Secretariat to support eight projects in the different subregions of the continent and prepare the regional preparatory meeting for COP9 - this will make an important contribution to the team's strategic objectives for Africa, which are focused upon new Party ratifications, designations of new sites, implementation of the Convention, and capacity building. The Swiss Grant for Africa administered by the Ramsar Secretariat is a generous annual contribution, dating back to 1989, offered by the Federal Government of Switzerland over and above the annual contributions provided to the Convention's core budget. [03/09/04]


Dominican Republic's protected areas law raises concerns. The Secretary General of the Ramsar Convention reiterated last week his concern about the new law on Protected Areas which was approved by the Parliament of the Dominican Republic but which is now undergoing litigation as to its unconstitutionality. On the occasion of the nomination of H.E. Dr. Leonel Fernández as the new President of the Dominican Republic, the Secretary General of the Convention on Wetlands, Dr Peter Bridgewater, reminded the Government of its international obligations regarding protected areas. [02/09/04]

¿Qué futuro para los humedales de la República Dominicana? El Secretario General de la Convención de Ramsar reiteró la semana pasada su preocupación acerca de la nueva ley sobre áreas protegidas aprobada por el Parlamento de la República Dominicana pero actualmente demandada por inconstitucionalidad. En ocasión de la toma de posesión de S.E. Dr. Leonel Fernández como nuevo Presidente de la República Dominicana, el Secretario General, Dr. Peter Bridgewater, recordó al Gobierno sus obligaciones internacionales en materia de áreas protegidas. Más aqui.

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